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Montana H

Business Development Director

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How can estate and letting agents avoid customer problems during transactions?

How can estate and letting agents avoid customer problems during transactions

Some 54% of people who have sold, rented or bought a property in the last five years have faced problems during the process, new research from NAEA and ARLA Propertymark has revealed.

The trade bodies’ joint research found that the biggest issues facing customers of letting agents were: waiting a long time for any problems with the property to be fixed (38%), struggles to get old items replaced (20%) and a failure to get full deposits back without an explanation as to why (12%).

While these issues all affected the rental sector, there were problems on the sales side too. More than half of those surveyed experienced issues, which included poor communication (19%), feeling as if the agent didn’t care enough about them (12%) and feeling pressurised (10%).

The study attributes much of this to sellers, buyers and landlords not checking the credentials of the agent they dealt with, and whether or not they were members of an approved professional body. It revealed that 37% of buyers and sellers, and 42% of renters, didn’t consider whether their agent was part of a professional body before continuing with their transaction.

When you consider that more than one million homes were bought or sold in England and Wales in 2016, and a similar number in 2017 – with most of these being managed by an agent – the figures above are quite alarming.

Some 42% of tenants said they didn’t even think to ask, with 14% under the wrongful assumption that all letting agents are regulated. Meanwhile, only 47% of buyers or sellers checked to see if their estate agent was regulated before proceeding with their purchase or sale. Again, approximately 37% said they didn’t think to ask, while 14% of buyers put the property above anything else and went with the agent because they were already emotionally invested in the home they wanted to buy.

The research also highlighted that 70% of buyers are concerned about their sale falling through, even once their offer has been officially accepted. This could be due to ‘a sense of mistrust between buyers and sellers’, which can make some transactions tricky and uncomfortable for all parties involved.

Promisingly, the number of buyers, sellers and renters checking to see if their estate agent is regulated has risen since 2014, but the research suggests that too many people still believe all agents are automatically part of an approved professional body.

Although the majority of people won’t hesitate to use the estate agent attached to the property they’re buying or renting, NAEA and ARLA Propertymark say it’s a prudent measure to at least ask the question about an agency’s professional credentials.

“Property transactions almost always take longer than expected, and you may be forced into negotiations mid-way through the process – particularly for buyers,” a joint statement from Mark Hayward and David Cox, CEOs of NAEA and ARLA respectively, said. “Your estate or letting agent should be there to guide you through the process and make it as smooth and pain-free as possible.”

So what can be done to reduce the likelihood of these problems? Well, as an agent, you can inform clients or prospective clients that you are a fully paid-up member of a respected professional body, or, in most cases, more than one. This includes Propertymark (ARLA, NAEA, NAVA, ICBA and APIP), the Guild of Property Professionals, The Property Ombudsman and more. ?

If you are a letting agent, you can ensure any issues are dealt with promptly, with repairs and maintenance carried out swiftly and major problems fixed within a reasonable amount of time. Replacing old or worn items with newer, glossier ones – as long as the landlords you represent are happy with this course of action – will also help to keep tenants happy and on side.

To avoid any disputes over deposits, ensure they are protected in one of the three government-approved schemes in England and Wales: the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), mydeposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). If any disputes arise, work with the deposit protection schemes to mediate between landlords and tenants to ensure due process is followed and the correct final outcome is reached.

If, for whatever reason, a tenant doesn’t receive their full deposit back, you should inform them of the reasons why in writing and give them the right to respond.

For estate agents, meanwhile, good communication is all-important, as is keeping your clients well-informed at all times to ensure they feel valued and cared for. At Gnomen, our cloud-based, all-in-one software and innovative websites allow you to do this.

With our system you can keep customers happy, engaged and informed, with tailored online login areas to ensure that every client has the best possible experience. For sellers, this means the ability to add properties, track viewings and view offers, while buyers can register for SMS and email alerts and ‘favourite’ property searches.

We also allow you to share more with integrated messaging and social media, in turn keeping your clients up to date with all the latest news and developments in the property industry.

It’s common knowledge, that to thrive in this day and age, you need a website to compete with the best in the business. Our agent website design offers you exactly that, with a number of cutting-edge features included to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

For more information about what we can do for you, please get in touch with us on 0208 123 9019 or book a free demo here.

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Montana H

Business Development Director

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